23yr old Step-daughter comes back to steal


New Member
Wow, where to start.

My wife and I each have two children from previous marriages. My step-daughter (I’ll call her Jane) has recently started entering our house during the day while we are at work and taking our things. Jane has a history of drug abuse and she's more than likely taking things to sell at a pawn shop for drug money. Jane's actually taken things from my wife (her mom) for quite a while; small things like earrings, perfume, hair brushes, clothes.

Jane moved in with us about 6 months ago. She had trouble keeping jobs and finding direction in her life. She had a lot of trouble staying away from drugs but my wife convinced me to let Jane move in and give her a final chance to get on her feet. My wife loves her daughter very much and feels a lot of pain watching Jane struggle. It's impossibly difficult for my wife to see her daughter as anything other than the sweet little girl she once was at 11yrs old. I was resistant but I'm a compassionate man and want to do whatever I can to help.

Jane moved into the spare bedroom downstairs and it was a mess from the start. She would sleep all day and be awake all night. She would take food that ought to be in the refrigerator and leave it down there. She would reapportion personal items of mine and her mother's for her own use; a general lack of respect for other people's things. If it was upstairs and Jane liked the look of it, it was in her hands and gone. She would sit and binge-watch TV for days at a time. Her room became a complete mess with dirty clothes strewn everywhere; not an inch of clear floor; open bags of chips, cigarette packs, odor, spiders, you name it. She once used a personal item my son made for me when he was 4, as an ash tray. She would go into my night stand and take what she wanted. She took the promise ring I gave my wife before we were married. There are so many example I can't list them all. It's truly a complete lack of respect or ability to recognize the value other people place on things. She smoked in the house. She lied all the time and would complain that nobody trusted her.

As Jane’s stagnant behavior and disrespect progressively got worse, my gently nature got less and less gentle. If she was being noisy in the kitchen at 1am, I would get up and tell her it's not ok to run the blender. But most of the time, I would tell my wife and wait for her to talk to Jane about the cigarette butts everywhere. I have a hard time with confrontation and my wife gets very defensive about her daughter. It’s an awkward mix. My wife very much admits that she has a problem coming to terms with Jane's behavior, so not much got done. I'm better than I used to be and try my hardest to communicate with my wife and show my understanding and honest intentions. I was much the same as my step-daughter when I was that age. I get it.

After months of Jane’s free ride getting progressively less free, I guess Jane had enough. She started sleeping downstairs at her father's house across town again. Her father is a good man but can't come to terms with Jane either. His downstairs is a disgusting mess that he can't bear to look at. Jane does drugs down there. It’s truly a pit of despair.

After another month or two I decided it was time to reclaim the spare room. I went in and dug out all the garbage and bagged up the dirty clothes. I vacuumed and washed the sheets and blankets on the bed. I wiped down everything and threw out drug paraphernalia. :( It was very sad but my wife was secretly very happy that I had cleaned up what she could not. Jane stopped by a time or two and saw first-hand that her room had been reclaimed. I have two kids of my own, 11 & 13, who live here 3 days a week. I have to keep a clean and comfortable home for everyone.

Two weeks ago, Jane stopped by while my wife and I were at work. She took some electronics (iPods and old iPhone) and tools from the garage. This is truly the first and most upsetting thing that had happened. I could deal with all the behavior and motivation issues but now things were missing. The tools weren’t of any extreme value, but I’d had them for 20 years and they had a lot of sentimental value; a piece or two from my dad; some dumb old sockets I got from Sears; but I’d worked on hundreds of projects with them and it made me very sad and violated and upset and afraid.

Not much came of it and we couldn’t get an answer from Jane. Mostly it’s impossible to get a hold of her so a straight answer was stifled. We figure it was probably a drug addict friend who drove her here and he took the valuables (possibly with Jane’s help). We locked up the house. I put a lock on the door from the house into the garage. I put a lock on the gate. I changed the lock on the front door and redistributed keys to my wife and my two kids. I changed piles of online passwords. My wife feels horrible. I can’t begin to imagine being in her position. We went to Jane’s old room downstairs at her father’s house today, at his behest and plea for help, and cleaned up an awful mess; truly horrible. Jane is missing.

Back up to the middle of this last week, I found a cigarette lighter on the couch, some soil on the carpet, the downstairs bedroom door closed (uncharacteristically), and a bag of Jane’s dirty clothes gone. I told my wife at the time but it all seemed explainable. After all, the house had been fully locked. But it wasn’t. There was a ladder outside, left there from some house work. Jane or one of her druggy friends had come in through an open upstairs window.

Tonight my son asked me what happened to the Wii (video game) and my gut twisted. More electronics had walked out of the house. I had to explain to my kids that “[Jane] must have taken them. She sometimes ‘borrows’ things without asking.” My kids were now impacted by this thievery and I wanted to cry.

I hurt and don’t know how what to do. My wife is in real pain. I’m feeling little love-loss for Jane but how can I come down hard on my step-daughter when it’s so impossibly hard for my wife? I want to protect our house from more drug related thievery. I can’t ask my wife to go all tough-love on her daughter but I think Jane needs to go to jail or something. Actually I just put two and two together this very minute – Jane ‘borrowed’ her relative’s car recently and she’s been missing for a couple days. I think she must have driven out of town. I don’t know. I’m at my wits end.

What should I do?

Sincerely, Patience

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Hi Patience welcome to the forum. You are not alone. I am so sorry for your troubles with your step daughter.
Your wife is understandably in pain. It is a hard fact to face when our children fall in adulthood to drugs and thieving.
I am missing heirloom rings my Nana gave me when I was a child. Who does that? My sons iPhone went missing from the charger on the counter. Who would steal such a thing from their little brother? The list goes on.
I have two adult children with problems. Both of them deny stealing anything. Bull.
I won't stand for it. I think my husband has finally come around. It takes time.
We changed our locks and try to make our little house secure but the windows are really easy to get into. It is insanity. Crazy to have to go to extremes to protect your house because of your child.
You have been very patient, but this is your house too. The article on the forum on detachment is very good. Encourage your wife to read it. There are some very good sites on the web about addiction and what it does to people.
Patience, I am so sorry for your most recent loss of tools, especially the irreplaceable ones that hold special memories. You have taken the right step by changing your locks. Someone suggested we get security cameras, they are reasonably priced.
I would definitely call the police. It is scary to think our adult children have accomplices. We deserve to be safe in our homes. Our adult children ripping us off is unacceptable, they do deserve to face consequences. In jail, perhaps your step-daughter will be forced to get help for her drug addictions. It sounds like she is sunken in deep to it.
I sincerely hope your wife will see the light. It is hard when your partners eyes and heart are clouded over with memories of what was. In the meantime, you need to take steps to protect your home. Please let us know how things go. There are many here who have been in similar situations. We help one another. Keep strong and take care.


Crazy Cat Lady
This is going to sound extremely harsh, and I don't at all mean it to sound so, nor do I mean this to be hurtful, but at this point, I see only one option:

That being to swear out a restraining order against your daughter, and be willing to press charges if she comes on your property again. If she steals from you, be willing to press charges of breaking and entering against her.

That is the only thing that is going to break this cycle.

I wish i had a nicer, "softer" way to word this, or gentler advice, but I just don't. You've established a pattern of enabling, and in doing so, have "trained" your daughter to believe that her behavior is acceptable. The only way to break that pattern is to break is cleanly, and that, unfortunately, is most likely going to involve going the legal route.

My heart goes out to you and your wife.


Welcome. I am so sorry that you have to be here. I too think it's time to call the police. It sounds like the situation has gotten to the point where she is breaking into your home. It's very difficult but if it were a stranger you wouldn't think twice about calling the police. Drugs are truly terrible and I can understand your wife's heartbreak and the devastation Jane has caused. I believe it's the right time to take back some control. It won't be easy but enabling her has only caused more grief. It might be in everyone's best interest, Jane included to approach it a different way.

I too am sorry if this seems harsh but there are young children that are being affected. Until Jane realizes the devastation her behavior has caused she needs to be kept far away from you. I agree with GoingNorth about a restraining order. Only then may she realize the consequences of her behavior

Giant hugs. This is not an easy road. My thoughts are with your family.


Well-Known Member
I got a restraining order when this happened to me. It was no trouble and actually was the main thing that drove my son to a normal life.


Well-Known Member
Hello Patience,

I am so sorry for what you and your wife are suffering through.

I am in agreement with the others. You have not another option than a restraining order and dealing with it legally.

For your step-daughter's good, she must be stopped, or at least curbed. She may be stealing from other people. Or she may begin to steal from other people, strangers. This becomes burglary. She will go to prison.

The important and central thing are the younger children. None of this is their fault. To allow Jane to hurt them by taking their things, is irresponsible. You know that. There is the issue of their visitation and shared custody arrangements. If they are in any way vulnerable in your home, these can be in jeopardy, I fear.

And Jane. As long as you tolerate behavior by her and by her friends to you and in your house, you are as if condoning it.

I empathize with your wife. Would she consider participating on this forum?

All of us support you for what you have endured. Your outrage and your sense that this behavior by Jane must be stopped, we share as well.

Keep posting. Welcome. We are glad you are here with us.
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Well-Known Member
Welcome, Patience.
I can feel the pain that you and your wife are feeling. I'm so sorry.
I would have changed the locks long ago. Bless you for cleaning all that up!
It's so tragic that so many of our children's minds are wasted by drugs. It's like a real-life zombie movie. It's heartbreaking.
I hope your wife can come to this forum. I think that she would get a lot of use out of it and make some friends.